Questions of Cash: 'Should I keep the policy for insurance?'

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The Independent Online

Q I have a 25-year endowment mortgage, paid off after 14 years. I have retained the policy because it appears to give valuable life cover (I am 68) although the projected return in 2011 is much lower than anticipated. Is this a sensible decision? TV, Buckinghamshire.

Stuart Grennan, director of financial planning at adviser Torquil Clark, says your best course depends on your state of health and whether you need substantial life assurance. If you do require life cover and your health is poor, an alternative policy may be prohibitively expensive.

But if you do not need the cover, he suggests you might be better off making the endowment paid up and placing your regular savings into either a stocks and shares Isa or a cash Isa, depending on your attitude to risk and investment needs.

This would allow you to still benefit from future returns on the endowment. You may need advice from a financial adviser.

Q In your answer to the letter from ML, of Nottingham (Questions of Cash, 4 October 2003), who had problems accessing the Northern Rock online account, you said the bank blamed his computer settings. I too have had problems accessing my Northern Rock online account. I do not have similar problems with other internet accounts. GH, by e-mail.

Northern Rock accepts there can be what it calls "minor incompatibilities" between its system and customers' PC configurations, causing problems such as yours. In most cases, this can be resolved by a configuration change or through a free software download, though in some cases trouble may be caused by the firewall a customer is using.

You should ask Northern Rock to explain the changes you may need to make by e-mailing them through the technical help section on its web site. Northern Rock does not provide a telephone helpline for technical support.

Q I took out a bank loan with Halifax, which was paid off by a medical insurance policy sold by Halifax and provided by Consolidated Financial Insurance. Weeks after being told by Consolidated the debt had been paid, Halifax said the loan was still outstanding. WK, Bath.

Halifax apologises for the problems caused by its failure to properly allocate the payment from your policy. It accepts it failed to communicate properly and as recompense it has written off the balance representing interest on earlier missed repayments and made a goodwill payment of £50.

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